I’m Nelli Koutaniemi, a fourth-year business student from Oulu, Finland and I did a three-month internship for Study Advisory in their Hong Kong’s office this Summer 2016. Basically I’m here to tell and describe why it’s freaking awesome. Challenging, independent and rapidly changing – and everything awesome.
How did you end up to Study Advisory’s Hong Kong office in first place?
I was studying as an exchange student in Hong Kong for the spring semester 2016. I was very keen to find an internship placement from the city since Hong Kong made such a good impression on me during the first few months. I was lucky to notice Study Advisory’s internship position and meet Tuomas, the head of the Hong Kong subsidiary, in the office in Kowloon. Before the interview I made some research about the company and I was impressed by the work that they have done and the overall mission of Study Advisory: they share a lot of same values and ideas that I do.
What do you study and what were your tasks during the internship?
As said, I am a business student majoring in International Business Management and minoring in Marketing and Corporate Law. I was a marketing intern for Study Advisory, which gave me possibility to combine my major and minor subjects efficiently.
In short, I handled a lot of different kinds of marketing practices from social media to bigger projects and on the other hand I had a chance to work on the field networking and meeting higher education professionals. Together with my colleague we participated in some education expos and events and met the students and the university staff at campuses – there are 8 big universities in Hong Kong area! Outside office hours there were a lot of professional networking events from salsa classes to insightful workshops and presentations.
As a business student I learned the most when participating in Study Advisory’s crowdfunding campaign (I am so flattered that as an intern they gave me such big responsibilities in it) and when I got a chance to negotiate some cooperation possibilities with local and foreign business representatives.
What do I need to take into account if I want to work in Hong Kong?
The basics! Get the trainee visa, find yourself an apartment, take some vaccinations and book your flight tickets. Study Advisory provides you with an intern guide with all the basic information. Take a look also at the training visa’s requirements and enclosures from Immigration Department’s website. You need to gather a lot of papers and prepare to wait a few months, but generally the visa process is quite pleasant.
Apartment situation in Hong Kong is a bit trickier question. 8 million people packed in such a small area means that the apartments are small and the prices are quite high. Nothing to be afraid though, if you are not able to find your dream flat from Facebook groups such as FindYourRoomInHongKong, you can always ask for a single room in a dormitory like Apple Dorm and keep seeking while you arrive. Or maybe do it like I did and stay there for the whole time!
Hong Kong is too awesome. I mean it, to me it is a paradise of contrasts: the high-end, skyscraper-filled metropolis with more local areas and they special atmosphere. The nature is close: Hong Kong is a city surrounded by beautiful steep mountain sides.
How’s Hong Kong as a working environment?
Although working in such a huge city is challenging, it rewards you with a can-do attitude and offers amazing networking possibilities. The atmosphere is competitive and busy and local people are very hard-working by their nature. Study Advisory’s Hong Kong office pretty much follows the headquarters in Finland when it comes to working habits and hours. Local people are very hard working and can stay in the office more than 12h a day.
I really miss lunch hours in local restaurants, they get packed around noon to 1pm with cheerful business men and women chatting with their colleagues, gathering together with their steaming hot bowls of tasty noodle soup or something else delicious. After dinner time you can easily find some relaxed or more professional events or grab an after-work beer with colleagues. The city provides excellent opportunities for networking!
Comparing to headquarters in Finland, do you concentrate on different field in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong’s office is there to concentrate on Asian markets: half of the world’s university students living within a 4-hour flight from Hong Kong! The city itself is one of the biggest start-up hubs of Asia. Internship is a great way to get introduced to Asian markets, business and higher education.
Study Advisory operates in one co-working space in Kowloon and we also spend hours in campuses, “coffice” (taking office or your laptop into a coffee shop) or in Wanchai Small & Medium Size Enterprise Center. Whatever was the most convenient at the time!
What was the most challenging part working in Hong Kong?
I don’t think that the city itself caused any big challenges to my internship. Before my exchange I had already spent 4 full months in Hong Kong so I kind of knew what to expect. Prepare yourself for the inevitable culture shock, I’d say. Everyone who moves abroad for more than one month is going to experience in one way or another. For me the biggest cultural shock was my tiny apartment but with a right attitude (and a good-night sleep) everything falls into place pretty quickly.
… and the most fun?
Where do I start. There was something special excitement to work in Hong Kong. Generally, while interning for Study Advisory you get to experience a very modern way of working. You take your laptop and take a seat at Starbucks or in co-working space with other start-up companies, meet people and feel the pulse of the busy metropolis while taking a fully packed metro back home in the evening. I consider myself very lucky to experience all of that. So, for the “most fun” part I’d say the modern way of working, the atmosphere of the city and of course – my amazing colleagues. Hong Kong team was (at my time) relatively small but they were all nice and genuine people.
Any final words?
If you are considering to work for Study Advisory in Hong Kong, go for it. It is amazing time not only because of the city, but Study Advisory provides a great learning environment in a start-up business. Basically, you get as many responsibilities as you ask for and everyone in the team is important for the company. It truly was an experience of a lifetime.
You can take a look at an internship and other employment opportunities at Study Advisory’s Careers page! For other employment and internship motivation I suggest you to check our blog, for example, “Top 5 reasons why employers love applicants who have studied abroad”!